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Dog Walker’s Hair Goes Gray Overnight: Says Invisible Fences Are to Blame

I’ve been trying to write a funny take on how ridiculously stressful it is to walk past yard after yard of dogs who are behind invisible, underground fences and charge me as I pass by. It’s like the ultimate game of dog walker chicken.

The dogs are running towards me – there might be a fence to stop them, but maybe not – do I keep passing by or retreat?

 

Obviously I retreat, full of anxiety as I wonder if the dogs are going to chase us down the street. I age two years every time this happens. After more than a decade of playing dog walker chicken I’m starting to look like Cloris Leachman’s older sister.

So, yeah, this was going to be funny, but then a dog I love got hurt this week. One of my clients was walking her dog when they passed a house with a large dog and owner playing ball in the yard. The large dog saw my client and ran at them, slamming hard into her dog and grabbing a mouthful of fur.

Where was the other dog owner? Hiding behind a bush in her front lawn. That my friends, is a whole different blog.

Why did the owner allow the dog to run loose? She didn’t. The aggressing dog was in his yard behind an invisible fence when my client walked by. He busted right through the “fence”, happily taking the shock in order to get to my friend.

My dog pal has spent the last week with a swollen shoulder. She’s unable to shake her head or be touched on her left side without yelping. It could have been worse. Oh wait. It was. She’s reactive around some dogs. Thanks to this encounter, we’ve likely moved back a step or two.

Nothing funny about that.

I’m super tired of walking by these fences. How about you?

 

Every time I walk past a yard where I see dogs charging across their lawns towards me and my dogs I have to think: Do they have an invisible fence? If so will it stop the dogs? I quickly scan for little white flags. Sometimes the flags are there, but sometimes they’re not. Are they not there because there is no fence or because the owners took the flags down? Are those pesticide signs? Is there a sign anywhere else? The clock is ticking. The dogs are charging. Twenty more of my hairs turn gray, my stomach flips, and I do an Emergency U-turn.

Playing dog walker chicken with overstimulated, unsupervised dogs just isn’t my steez.

white fence flags


There’s already so much written about these fences, but in case it needs to be said again: Invisible fences are not REAL fences. Traditional fences are designed to keeps dogs in, keep others out, and they provide a clear visual barrier so people passing by know the dogs on the other side are contained.

Hit pause: I understand that these fences work for some of you. I’m not calling you a bad dog owner for using them. But these fences scare me and my friend just got hurt, so I’m gonna call out some problems with them. Nothing personal, ok? You know I love you guys.

Ok, so while no option is perfect, these invisible fences fail the average dog owner in many ways. Allow me to elaborate based on my experiences with these fences (as a dog walker and shelter worker where I was a frequent host to stray dogs with failed underground fence collars):


They fail to keep some dogs in:

  • Plenty of dogs are happy to take the shocks in order to get to whatever high value item is on the other side. This happens a lot. A dog sees: squirrels, turkeys, dogs they want to play with, a dog they want to chase away, a kid on bike, an ice cream truck, the Philly Phantic, etc. and they’re motivated enough to take a few shocks in order to get to it. See also: my friend this week.
  • Some of those dogs will leave the yard, but won’t take the shock to come back IN the yard. It’s not fun taking the pain just to go back and sit in your yard.  So now your dog is loose.
  • There are dogs that figure out that the batteries in their collars are dead (no warning beeps) or their collars are loose enough not to feel the shock. So off they go to explore the world!
  • When snow banks are high enough, dogs can walk right over where the invisible fence line reaches. And off they go again!
  • Some dogs will bolt when they are scared – thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. – and they don’t care about taking the shock if they think it’ll help them escape what’s frightening them.

 

They fail to keep others (animals and people) out:

  • It doesn’t prevent anything or anyone from entering your yard.  These fences don’t keep anything OUT.
  • Some dogs are perfectly happy to stay in the yards, dead batteries in their collars and all, but they are surprised to find other dogs have entered their yards.  Or wild animals, unwelcome people, or aggressive dogs that got loose from someone else’s house. Your dog will get shocked if they try to escape the yard/the threat.


They can cause behavior issues:

  • Some dogs are so frightened by the shocks they receive that they don’t want to go outside anymore. Like for days.
  • When dogs charge the boundaries of their yards every time they see a dog/bike/person and get a shock, this can cause behavior issues. Some dogs will associate the pain they feel with what they see. This can potentially lead to aggression or reactivity.
  • Some dogs won’t leave their yards for fear of a shock, even when they’re not wearing their collar. I knew a dog that had to be driven down the driveway, past the fence line, in order to leave the property for a leashed walk.
  •  Some dogs become afraid of beeping. Because their collars beep as a warning before they receive a shock, the dogs become fearful whenever they hear a similar beep. Like from the microwave.

 

They frighten people passing by who can’t tell if the dogs are really contained or not:

  • See: playing dog walker chicken. Also: delivery guy chicken, young children and senior citizens out strolling chicken, and jogger chicken. It’s scary to walk past your yards folks. Really scary. 


Look, there are no absolutes in this world, so I’ll be the first to admit that some of these things can happen no matter how you contain (or don’t contain) your dogs. Dogs dig under wood fences, jump chain link, gates swing open, etc.

And despite how much I can’t stand underground fences, I’ll acknowledge that there are two ways that these fences might not be totally unreasonable options for some families, provided the owners do the proper boundary training, have excellent recalls, and do not leave their dogs unattended in their yards:

  • As a secondary containment system for escape artists. If you have a dog that is able to scale or dig out of traditional fences, using an electric fences as a backup system, might be worth exploring.
  • As a containment system for rural properties with many acres. If you have acreage that can’t be fenced in because it is so large, using an electric fence at the far boundaries may be worth exploring.


And to keep the conversation rolling, here are two of the common reasons that responsible, dog-loving people I know pick Invisible Fencing:

  • Cost
  • Housing Associations


For cost: Underground fences range from $100 (for a DIY kit) to a couple thousand bucks. There are some affordable alternatives out there. Like these fence kits. My choice for affordable AND sturdy is farm fencing. I know because that’s what we choose for our yard. It’s comparable in price to a professionally installed electric fence. You can build it 4-8 feet high. You can bury part of it below ground if you have diggers. It doesn’t obstruct views and you can fence in just part of your yard if you have many acres.

 

We waited and saved for 5 years until we could put up a fence. Until then, we relied on leash walks and supervised time on tie-outs in the yard. This was Birdie’s first run in her new, fenced in yard!

We waited and saved for 5 years until we could put up a fence. Until then, we relied on leash walks and supervised time on tie-outs in the yard. This was Birdie’s first run in her new, fenced in yard!


For housing associations: please talk with them. Nothing will change if no one challenges the rules. Ask if you are allowed to fence in part of your property (maybe just the back yard). Discuss different types of fencing options. Can you put up a low physical fence, perhaps with Invisible Fence as a back-up if your dog can jump it? Can you fence in a portion of the yard with non-privacy fencing, like the options above? I know it’s not likely to work, but please try!


In the end, if you do choose a hidden electric fence please: Go with a professionally installed product, like the Invisible Fence brand, rather than a DIY job. Do the boundary training, slowly and as positively as you can. Make sure your dog has an excellent recall.

Never leave your dog unattended. You need to know if your dog leaves the yard. You need to know if another dog enters your property.

 

Finally, know your own dogs. This just isn’t the right fit for every dog. For some dogs it won’t keep them in, for other dogs it has the potential to cause serious issues. Never use them with dogs who have a history of reactivity, fear, phobias, or aggression.

For all of our sakes, I repeat: those of you with invisible fences (or no fences at all) have to stop leaving your dogs unattended in your yards. It’s crazy frightening to see dogs charging you at top speed, white flags or not.

And if you think your friendly dog would never do such a thing, I invite you to nanny-cam your yard. Betchya a five spot that lots of your dogs are having a blast playing dog walker chicken while you’re gone.


More on fences and fence problem-solving here!

 

 

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112 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great post! I have two Border Collies on an invisible fence because of cost but they don’t go out into the yard without supervision. I personally hate the invisible fence and can’t wait to have a house with a real fence. Unfortunately that isn’t in the cards at the moment.

    June 8, 2013
    • Totally understand. Getting a real fence was the most exciting purchase of my life, but we did without for years until we could make the investment. Finger crossed it’s in the cards for your family soon!

      June 10, 2013
    • Andi #

      Check out bestfriendfriendfence.com where you can get a farm fence for the same price as an underground fence. I LOVE my fence and the safety it provides me and my dog!

      June 11, 2014
  2. Your post resonated so much with my recent experiences. I took on a short term, 3 time a day walk assignment with a dog reactive Malinois and a scared to death Sheperd. I dread those walks because I never know what’s going to happen. We’ve had one attack, one near attack, and multiple near misses. Most of the time, the problems arise when an off-leash dog is running around. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “it’s okay, he’s friendly”! Yes, maybe, but the one I’m attached to is not and your perfectly friendly dog may take exception to my lunging, barking ball of fur. I have just 5 more walks and I’m counting them down. I love these dogs and I feel so bad for them that the owner hasn’t yet addressed their issues. I hope and pray that the next 5 go by without an issue but I have no confidence I’ll get that lucky.
    Best of luck on your walks!
    Tracy

    June 8, 2013
    • What’s really sad is that no matter how much their owner works with them on their issues, it can all be undone by one bad experience (see: my friend this week). That’s why everyone needs to properly manage their dogs – friendly or not. Good luck and be careful on your last 5 walks. Take some Spray Shield with you, just in case!

      June 8, 2013
  3. Jeanie #

    I had to stop walking through the neighborhood across the street, which of course is the closest with sidewalks, due to the number of dogs that are in invisible fences. Of course the fences allowed the dogs come within feet of the sidewalk. There are 5 houses within 1 block where all the dogs bark and 3 of them where the dogs charge the fence. I honestly don’t understand how the neighbors stand it. We avoid it now unless it is very late at night.

    June 8, 2013
    • I feel your pain! In one neighborhood where I walk dogs, one family moved the fence line to the outside of the sidewalk, near the curb (meaning the dogs could run into the sidewalk before getting a shock!). Luckily, there were complaints and they moved the fence line back to where it belongs; in their yard. But I’ve abandoned that block just to be safe!

      June 8, 2013
  4. Rebecca Anastasio #

    Here are more problems with invisible fence to consider — what happens when the power goes out, or a gopher chews through a wire and you don’t catch the system out signal light right away? We used an Invisible Fence coupled with a traditional farm fence on our acreage property because we had rescued a semi-feral dog who was a major escape artist with a need to roam and forage. That dog could scale a 7 foot board fence and dig out under a fence (in rock-hard summer adobe, mind you!) in less than 5 seconds, so that dog needed somehting fast, and something that would keep him from climbing or jumping. The invisible fence combo worked pretty well, but wiley dog that he was, he figured out when his battery was dead, when the power was out, when a wire was broken, and any other way he could think of to defeat the fence. The only thing that beat him was old age.
    We tried it on our next escape artist, a friendly pit bull who wanted to get out to say “Hi!” to everyone. There were very bizzare results. She interpreted the beep to be a critter sound, and would stand at the edge of the fence field barking furiously for hours at what we came to call the “Invisible Neck-Biting Squirrels.” Invisible Fence FAIL. Haven’t used it on a dog since, just put money into improving the fence line.

    June 8, 2013
    • Thanks for sharing your experiences Rebecca. I appreciate how hard you worked to figure out a solution for your amazing escape artists (digging out through hard adobe is impressive!), so your advice is sound and I hope others pay attention.

      I’ll be writing more about how to choose and work with fence lines. I’m curious to know: have you found anything that has worked for you so far?

      June 8, 2013
      • Rebecca Anastasio #

        The main thing we did, at a fair cost but worth it for safety, was to install The Dog Containment Unit (which incidentally also serves as our legal pool safety fence). This consists of two sides, 6 feet tall of unclimbable and unchewable smooth vertical powder-coated steel with posts set into a concrete grade beam that prevents any digging out. At our 6 foot tall solid redwood backyard privacy fence, we added 5 feet of t-post and no-climb fence set 1 foot away from the redwood fence, also with a concrete grade beam along the bottom. It surrounds about a quarter acre of our property including the back deck and pool (which has a separate 4′ foot fence and gate) with a dog door leading into the mud room (the forth side is our house itself. The DCU has worked perfectly so far. They are not allowed out on the rest of the (fenced) property unless we are out with them, and we have worked on recall to the point where I have been able to call them off a squirrel chase. Unless we get a dog that can jump 6 foot clear, I think we are safe!
        Oh, did I tell you my neighbors hate pit bulls and tried to turn us in for running an unlicensed rescue? And yesterday while we were walking our 3 dogs, their Lab came barreling our through their open gate at us. Fortunately, we were separated because I had stopped to get a thorn out of my dog-social American Bulldog’s pad, and I was able to call the Lab over to us first for an easy meet and greet, giving my husband time to get the reactive Border-Pit behind him and drop the leash on the friendly but sometimes touchy pit bull giving her room to maneuver away from reactive dog. Unfortunately the owner was not able to catch the lab before he ran up to the other two dogs, but pit bull was all noodle-butt despite raised hackles on the Lab (!!!) and the Border-Pit stayed safely in back of hubby and did not need to encounter the Lab before owner caught up. The sad thing is, if Mr. Excitable off-leash Lab HAD decided to start something with any of my dogs, they may still have been considered dangerous just for being bully breeds instead of Labs. Which is why we have the DCU — it completely keeps out dogs in, and it completely keeps other dogs out. No chance of consequences that might come back on our dogs through no real fault of their own.

        June 8, 2013
        • That is one serious fence system – so glad it’s working for you! And I’m sorry to hear your neighbor is causing problems for you. What a bummer. It’s not always easy, I gotta say, but the dogs are so worth it!

          June 8, 2013
  5. Linda Ericson #

    Jessica, so sorry this happened! I so understand, mines another long story, much along the same lines only it was the next door neighbor’s black lab! ultimately, I managed to have both of her labs removed BUT the damage was done to my puppy! Here we are, 5 years later! Is is better, yes. I’ve literally spent thousands of dollars on books, training classes etc. our local HS does not like electronic fences but fails to get that out to the public! They consider it abuse! The other side of that is it takes at least a month to properly train the owner & dog. I did train a dog (not mine) to the electronic fence as it was the only choice in a community that forbids fences in front yards. People forget also, it doesn’t keep other dogs out. That being said, not the best. When I walk any of my three dogs I started carrying the Citronella spray, added the hiss spray & finally pepper spray! Totally ridiculous but it’s my job to keep my dogs safe. My advice is to ALWAYS notify the local authorities … We can’t improve these situations unless enough of us band together. I let a lot of things slide with this neighbor! HUGE MISTAKE!!! My advice is to tackle the issue right away & get the dog back out there with lots of safe dogs!

    June 8, 2013
  6. A Concerned Grandma #

    I wish my stepson and DIL would see and read this; but I doubt seriously they would read it even if they were to see it. You see, they installed a DIY invisible fence to keep their sweet Lab — my granddog — on their property. My son did take the time to boundary train the dog, and as far as I know the dog has never left the yard. BUT they do leave him in the yard, unattended, for hours on end, and sometimes even when they’re not at home. They live on a quiet, suburban street, but I still have deep concerns for the dog,..and passersby. I have voiced my opinion — both subtly and not-so-subtly — but am always either completely ignored or told outright to mind my own business. So now I say nothing but still worry about the dog at times.

    June 8, 2013
  7. I wouldn't tazer my dog! #

    I have to say, I think people with this fencing are bad owners! Why would you shock your dog, ever???

    I stick to the idea that if you wouldn’t do it to an 18 month old kid, don’t do it to a dog. If you can’t have real fencing, don’t get a dog. If you’ve got a dog and are moving to somewhere that doesn’t allow fencing, then rent/buy where you can have fencing. Surely this is not rocket science?

    Here is an interesting blog on how the shocks of dog collars compare to other shocks. Many dog collars are stronger than a tazer! http://awesomedogs.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/its-not-the-volts-its-the-amp/

    June 8, 2013
    • You know your comment has me thinking, as I do often: why are positive training advocates so negative when they’re speaking to people? I’m so totally turned off by your comment that I’m posting it just to tell you so.

      Have you ever heard the expression “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”? Well, you change more people’s minds when you don’t call them bad owners, shame them for their choices, and issue blanket statements like “If you can’t have real fencing don’t get a dog.”

      So negative, so judgmental, so rude, so unrealistic, so totally unhelpful and so ineffective in actually changing people’s behavior. Surely, talking to people as positively as you’d treat dogs is not rocket science?

      June 8, 2013
      • Elizabeth Pomeroy #

        I think people often don’t understand how expensive fencing is, and would be. I was shocked to hear how much fencing costs, particularly on larger properties. Often where we move to is driven by affordability rather than having every attribute we desire (or in NYC, simply finding a place that will allow you to have dogs).

        I’m less inclined, however, to forgive those who don’t want to fence for aesthetic reasons. One of those was a friend who once was indoors and realized he heard no barking. All batteries on his three dogs invisible fence collars had died at the same time…and it took him hours to find all three of them, miles away but luckily unharmed. Check those batteries, peeps!

        June 10, 2013
        • Agreed! Also people buy houses and THEN adopt a dog. Some of my clients had no idea dogs would be in their future when they purchased a home with HOA fences rules. It’s not reasonable to think they would sell their home and move.

          June 10, 2013
        • doglover #

          I hear you on the cost of fencing, but if you are going to take on the responsibility of a dog, take on the full responsibility. I had a 4′ chain link fence around my property when I bought it. It was fine for my 2 dogs at the time and even my new puppy. However, when I got my crazy red headed dog, she jumped it at will (along with all the other fences in the neighborhood). Fortunately, she has excellent recall and never ran wild. She only went to one neighbor’s yard because he always had treats for her. However, I didn’t like that she was jumping so I sucked it up and spent $6K to put up a 6′ cedar privacy fence. While she still jumps the fence and I need to work on that, it is far less often. She at this point is rarely out in the yard without me watching because she can get over it in the blink of an eye.

          June 10, 2013
        • Laura #

          I have an invisible fence. Has it been perfect, no, but it has worked. My dog never goes out unsupervised. HE is NOT friendly. He’s a dog that needs space. The biggest issue I have is people thinking my large back yard is an empty lot and letting their dog free on it!!!!

          Fencing for my 3/4th of an acre is priced close to $15K. …..

          We are in the process of building our fence ourselves, but it’s a long slow process.

          August 9, 2013
          • Laura, could you temporarily put up rolls of inexpensive plastic garden fencing to keep others out? This lightweight fencing won’t keep your dog in, but it could help keep other dogs out (especially if you hung a “private property” sign on there for their owners to see)!

            August 9, 2013
          • Andi #

            Ever heard of a leash? Yup, its a great alternative to an electric fence. You can even get a 20 foot line for $10 at any pet store!

            June 11, 2014
    • jahvarga@Hotmail.com #

      As someone who has an invisable fence, I don’t agree with your comments. I take good care of my dog. He is well trained, well fed, well exercised, and very much loved. I have over an acre for him to run, but I can’t affor an $5-8,000 fence around that acre. I have trained him not to leave the yard, but I wanted extra security. I installed the fence and trained him. He only got shocked twice during the training, and trust me it’s not that bad. I tested it on myself, without thick fur. The collars are adjustable. He turns around when he hears the beep. I never leave him unattended and I don’t let him run at passer-bys. The fence gives me much piece of mind and I have not had any problems with it. It all depends on the owners. If someone is responsible, an invisable fence is a great thing.

      October 15, 2013
      • VHA #

        Thanks for saying it Jahvarga!

        October 21, 2013
      • alice #

        Thanks for sharing your comments! My story is much the same. Invisible fence installed by a professional company has worked very well for us in our neighborhood. I love my 3 dogs and watch them all the time. Don’t allow them to behave improperly. It’s the other dog owners who have no respect for our property and walking close on the sidewalk letting their dogs go pee and poop right on in our yard! Really annoying

        June 9, 2014
    • Gretchen #

      We have had the invisible fence for over 20 years and have had numerous dogs learn the system in that time. Once the dog learns the boundaries they DO NOT try it and so don’t repeatedly get shocked. We’ve had several dogs who (once they learned the boundaries) could just wear a regular collar (not the shock collar) and never attempted to leave the yard. Before installing the fence 20 years ago we had 3 dogs killed on the busy road that borders the bottom of our 5 acres. Since the fence, ZERO dogs have been killed. A little shock once in awhile compared to getting run over seems like a no brainer to me. And YES we’ve held the collar and experienced the shock for ourselves so we know what it feels like.

      February 10, 2014
  8. What a great post! Every new puppy / dog owner should read this. I don’t like invisible fences either. Fencing doesn’t have to be very expensive. The first ten years we lived here, we put up the green stakes and 48 inch wire ‘farm’ fencing. It worked great! We only started putting in chain link when more houses started springing up around us. We first put in chain link across the street-facing yard. Then years later when they built beside us, we put in the sides. We only switched the back line from farm fencing to chain link when they decided to a development behind us. Ugh!

    June 8, 2013
  9. Mary Lebrecht #

    we will be moving in about a month and have been surprised at how many homes aren’t fenced and by how many people suggest the invisible fences. My first reason for not being interested in them is that as you said, they don’t keep other animals out…I don’t want to let my dogs out and have them surprised by a strange animal. Also I am fairly sure that my newf mix who is as friendly as any dog could be, would try to go say hello to someone and get zapped, fall to the ground and never want to get up and walk again ! He’s very dramatic. Lol. The other is a small terrier mix who I have no doubt would zip right through it to get at a squirrel, chipmunk, cat, whatever and not even notice he was zapped until he was gone. We will be getting a solid 5 ft fence before we move in. I had not even thought about the issue of walking by and not knowing if a charging dog would stop at the fence, definitely another big problem with invisible fences !

    June 8, 2013
  10. I will go so far as to say I DO think it is poor husbandry and irresponsible dog ownership to use these products. They are just plain dangerous to dogs and people. Truly, if the people in Wales can get along without electric shock being used on dogs, so can we.

    June 8, 2013
  11. barksNpurrs #

    These are the worst inventions !! I have some very strong opinions about these invisible fences. We will not adopt to anyone who has an invisible fence. Over the years, I have heard too many horror stories involving them. Animals running onto the properties, harming other animals. Dogs becoming aggressive due to the shocks. A dog who actually died b/c the owner “forgot” to remove his shock collar when driving down their driveway. The owner saw their dog writhing in agony in the back seat, didn’t know why, didn’t do anything about it until it was too late. This all happened in a matter of 10 mins. How stupid can one be !!?? Their Vet, who was appalled, told her as plainly as she could–“you just killed your dog in one of the most inhumane ways!” The dogs’ neck was so burnt from the shock–yes it was set on high–it penetrated through all the tissue & yet this woman had no idea that it was the collar causing the problem. I have heard nothing but horror story after horror story about these fences. And here’s another one. I’m thrilled you posted this story. Maybe, just maybe it will prevent someone from getting one of this installed. They are dangerous to everyone–humans & animals !
    They should be banned…..’nuff said !!!!!

    June 8, 2013
    • kendra #

      invisible fence brand collars don’t use electric shock and they do not burn the dogs neck. it is static shock, (the same feeling you get when you touch a door nob or get out of the car) the marks on the dogs neck is from an improperly fit collar and they are pressure marks. it is impossible for a dog to die from an invisible fence collar correction. also invisible fence brand collars have a time out on it so after 1 minute of correction the collar shuts off. PLEASE PEOPLE KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE FENCES!!

      June 10, 2013
      • I forgot to mention death or neck burns, but since you did: people should be aware that some underground fences can cause serious burns and even death!

        Thanks for pointing that out Kendra. The dogs appreciate it!

        June 10, 2013
        • kendra #

          what I am pointing out is that Invisible Fence Brand collars DO NOT CAUSE BURNS OF ANY KIND OR DEATH!!! it is impossible, please people do your research first! call you vet it is called pressure necrosis and it is from an improperly fit collar!

          June 11, 2013
      • barksNpurrs #

        Kendra–This is usually what most of the invisible/underground fence sales people tell you–“they don’t burn or hurt the dog”….not true……they can & they do…..don’t know which one you are talking about but they most certainly do…..this one did….there was no shut off….especially when the dog was contained in a car, while being zapped the whole time…..
        This is not the first time this has happened to a dog somewhere & I’m sure it will continue as long as these things are being used…..I have heard many horror stories, over the years.

        June 11, 2013
        • kendra #

          this is not what IF sales or dealers have told me this is what several vets have told me. not to mention I have PERSONALLY felt all the correction levels of the collars.. before, during and after my pregnancy. everyone is ok, I do believe that the DIY fences correction on their collars feel different, they are way stronger, and I have only felt the low levels on them because it is so much stronger. BUT when it comes to invisible fence I encourage you to feel the difference.

          June 11, 2013
  12. I considered one of these once but decided on a manual training e-collar and a wooden fence instead. I rarely use the e- collar and only for tough jobs. People say, “well, if you’d clicker train, if you’d treat train, if you have more patience,” and so on. I tell you, there are dogs that are not phased by all that when they decide to “go.” That includes the e-collars and e-fences. And when my dogs get charged, I make them sit. If the charging dog persists and my dogs defend me, so be it. The last time this happened the charging dog got a lesson he hasn’t forgotten. I also carry pepper spray and have no qualms about using it at all.

    June 8, 2013
    • I agree that many dogs need a physical barrier to stop them when they decide it’s go time. So I wonder, why use an ecollar at all? Just curious, not picking a fight.

      And I hear you about our dogs defending themselves, but I really don’t want to teach the charging dogs a lesson, because they’re not to blame. The dogs aren’t bad. Their owners are setting them up to fail and pay the price for their poor choices. The dogs don’t deserve to be injured, just like the dogs I walk don’t deserve to be scared or injured. I carry direct stop, but my first move is always to try to avoid an altercation – for all the dogs involved!

      June 9, 2013
  13. I have turned down many a sale due to prospective new owners intentions to use these unsafe fencing methods..

    June 9, 2013
  14. Lilly #

    My view, I hate those fences not only do they cause behavioral issues for a lot of dogs, at times they do not work. If you can not put a normal fence up its called a long lead with you on the end of it. A fence is not a babysitter which I see a lot of owners trying to use it for. There is a reason why other countries are banning shock collars for fencing and even training.

    June 9, 2013
    • I have to agree! Here in New Zealand I have never seen “invisible fences” around the urban areas and not only would it scare my already slightly reactive staffy but it would freak me out as it is. We are working on his reactivity- fear of other dogs behind fences- so at the moment we simply switch directions and then retry that fence at a later date- I dont want to set him up to fail but its very hard as it is when dogs behind fences start going great guns and barking at us. Fences do not equal baby sitters!

      June 9, 2013
  15. HERMAN'S HOPE #

    I’m not a fan of electric fences. Same reasons you give.

    June 9, 2013
  16. kendra #

    I think you are confusing two different “invisible fences” if you get a diy fence then yes, everything you have said can be true. but if you get a true Invisible Fence brand then the things you have listed are wrong. Invisible Fence brand guarantees your dog will stay in the yard, no matter how high the snow gets the fences still work. invisible fence mails batteries out so you never forget to change them, there for the dogs don’t “figure out” the batteries are dead. behavioral issues happen with the diy fences because the owner dose not know how to adjust the collar properly. invisible fence brand trainers have been specially trained to adjust the collar so that the dogs don’t get afraid of their yard. invisible fence trainers train you and your dog to walk off the property for walks. invisible fence has large signs that clearly post the dog is protected by an invisible fence.
    invisible fence brand has saved many dogs lives from the pound because they just cant be contained, from moving vehicles and from stressed out owners. you have written a very nice article but I would suggest you talk to an invisible fence trainer first and do a little research on the HUGE difference a TRUE Invisible Fence Brand makes.

    June 10, 2013
    • Nope. I’m correct. I’ve worked with plenty of clients who have the Invisible Fence brand.These things happen with their dogs too. Like I said, I prefer the Invisible Fence brand to DIY kits, but none of these fences are immune to the problems I’ve listed.

      June 10, 2013
      • kendra #

        I am an Invisible Fence trainer and if you would like to talk to me personally I would love to educate you on the MAJOR difference between the fences.

        June 11, 2013
        • Susan #

          Kendra, I am a groomer and I know dogs that are dead because Invisible Fence could not contain them. Siberian Huskies, mostly. Saying that this product can contain EVERY dog is just wrong.

          June 11, 2013
          • kendra #

            susan, in the 10 years my good friend and boss has run her invisible fence company she has only taking out 1 fence, and it was an unneutered male dog. so when I say that it can contain every dog, I believe it because I have seen it. again, we are most likely talking about two very different fences…Invisible Fence brand, that is only installed by professionals and trained by professionals, and then the DIY fences where any average joe can install and train.

            June 11, 2013
            • Nikki #

              You think everyone contacts the company to report when their dogs aren’t contained, when their dogs are hurt because of, when their dogs develop behavior issues because of them, when dogs die? They don’t. I have heard from a vet friend and a groomer friend who personally witnessed scortch marks from the Invisible Fence company specifically. The owners my groomer friend talked to threw the thing in the garbage themselves and that was that. Sadly few people actually report back when things go wrong. But even when they do so many companies (not Invisible Fence perse) bury the reports, ignore them, etc so why bother. All they can do in their minds is warn other people themselves.

              June 11, 2013
              • kendra #

                all I can do is speak for the invisible fence company I work for. I know that invisible fence brand dose have 100% guarantee or your money back. if people don’t report problems..well that’s their fault. that same goes with people who don’t try and solve behavioral issues when they first occur, leaving it to when it becomes such a problem they give the dog up because they cant “handle” it..or put it down because it bit someone “out of the blue”

                June 12, 2013
            • Allison #

              Working at the shelter I have seen a number of dogs brought in, dead and alive with Invisible Fence brand collars- they don’t work for every dog and they most certainly cannot guarantee 100% protection for your dog. The Invisible Fence may work for some dogs but in my experience, they only work- until they don’t. It’s not a risk I am willing to take with my dogs.

              June 12, 2013
              • kendra #

                all I can do is speak for my company. just like a real fence if you leave the gate open your dog is going to get out, as with invisible fence if you don’t follow the steps your trainer tells you, your dog is going to get out. you cannot blame this 100% on invisible fence, its the owners responsibility to use the fence with caution and responsibility.

                June 12, 2013
                • Margaret #

                  In other words, don’t rely on the fence. Train your dog to recall. Don’t leave them outside unsupervised. All of which can be done without an IF, so why bother with it if you’re being cautious and responsible?

                  June 18, 2013
                  • kendra #

                    no that’s not what I am saying at all, you need to read what I wrote..if you don’t train your dog, then they are not going to know what to do. if you ask your dog to “heal” and he dose not know what that means then he will never heal. same with the fence, if you don’t train him what to do when he hears the beep, then he will not know to go forward or back. that’s what makes invisible fence the better brand. once the dog is trained then you can leave him unsupervised in the yard, and you know he is going to stay because you trained him and the fence is there to remind him. if you just boundary train there is nothing to stop your dog if a big distraction comes into or near the yard when you are not around.
                    invisible fence has saved many dogs lives. on busy roads where the car zoom by people want to be sure their dogs are not going to run into the road, that’s where we come in. again I am ONLY speaking for the company and territory I work in and the dogs that we train and our clients. they love their fences, they post their signs, and no one is afraid to walk by. it may be different in the city or where ever you live but here, invisible fence is a savior. and we do great things

                    June 19, 2013
                    • Margaret #

                      Please do not ever tell a client this. No matter how well trained the dog is, there is nothing to protect that dog from any other animal that decides to enter the area: coyotes, other dog-aggressive dogs, or multiple dogs willing to do serious damage. Many IF users seem to be rural, and wildlife abounds and can be a serious threat. (That’s true of fenced yards, too.)

                      June 19, 2013
  17. Dawn #

    I am an animal control officer and I can’t tell you how many dogs I have picked up wearing invisible fence collars. No dog, at any time, should be left outside unattended, regardless of your fence type. I have a fully fenced backyard and my dog is never out of my sight. The problem here is that our laws only say your dog has to stay on your property and you can do that by whichever means you choose; fence, leash, or a really well behaved dog. Invisible fences are definitely better than nothing at all and are great when used properly, but when people ask me about them I tell them to build a real fence or just tie the dog up and to always supervise their pet.

    June 10, 2013
  18. Lori #

    Thanks for this post. A few months ago my husband and I bought our first home, complete with a huge, unfenced backyard. Our two dogs are restricted to leashes when we’re outside so we take walks. One of our dogs is quite dog-reactive, so every walk is always a little anxiety-inducing, but so far we’ve had no problems. We’re saving up for a good fence as we’d rather invest in the safety of a good security fence for our 60 pound American bulldogs than go with something cheap. So glad to hear from someone else who’s had to save up a fence, too.

    June 10, 2013
  19. Great post! I use an invisible fence because I’m a renter and am not allowed to put up a real fence. Once I become a home owner, I’m getting a fully fenced yard!

    My dog Molly won’t blast the fence for dogs/people/bikers/joggers but I still make sure to run outside whenever I hear her barking, call her away from the fence and let whoever is on the other side know that there is an invisible fence there and that they aren’t about to be accosted by her. I don’t leave her outside when I’m not home because I don’t fully trust the fence! I also live in a rural area so the odds of other dogs coming into my yard are smaller than in a city/town. I check the collar regularly to make sure the batteries work and I check the fence line itself to make sure there are no breaks.

    I completely agree that they aren’t the best system, but in a pinch, they are better than nothing.

    June 10, 2013
  20. Mango Momma #

    Yup, been there. Out walking my 230 pound mastiff and a couple of loony toon weimeraners come roaring through their invisible fence. Luckily for me, my mastiff was too dumbfounded to react and the weimeraners apparently had second thoughts about their attitude once they got close enough to the mastiff to see how big he was. Of course they tried to run away back into their yard and couldn’t. One big mess.

    Another option for people who insist on invisible fencing is to set up the perimeter so that the dogs stay out of the front yard and (even better) stay out of line of sight. We have a fenced back yard that is 75% chain link, but with a solid fence facing the street to limit any frustration they might have regarding people / dogs walking by.

    Having just been confronted by off leash dogs intent on harming my leashed dog twice in one week, this topic is very timely for me.

    June 10, 2013
  21. Kara #

    I also personally think shock collars and electric fences are inhumane, though I understand why people opt for them. I think they create more behavior issues in the long run and problems for neighbors who may not know there is a “fence” in place.

    June 10, 2013
    • Nikki #

      Me too. Anything that has the possibility to shock or cause discomfort to my dog won’t touch him.
      I’ve seen so many dogs (mentally) destroyed by these things.

      June 11, 2013
  22. Love this one. :) I do have a DIY underground fence, as a backup for my real fence. Only one of my dogs is on the system, and it is because I needed a faster-than-me way to reinforce the barrier. We don’t leave her outside unattended, but she is lightning fast, and the collar is teaching her that the fence itself should be avoided, so we’re reducing her willingness to dive under it!

    I still don’t understand how anyone could rely on that for primary fencing, and I have heard/seen too many stories of it failing at just the wrong moment to trust it alone, but it is helping us teach our resident smarty pants that she must stay in our yard, she may not stick her face through the fence so the neighbor dog can bite it, and I don’t have to be looking at her all the time for those things to be true. :) But, I see it as a training/management tool, not a fence!

    Yes, she DOVE, like an Olympic swimmer, under the fence, with me literally feet away, to pop into the neighbor’s yard. If my hubby hadn’t been able to hurdle the fence right behind her, and the dogs kind of surprised that she had managed it, it could have been seriously ugly.

    I am sorry for your friend, I hate to see a dog working on those sorts of issues get attacked, it’s so hard!

    June 10, 2013
  23. martie13 #

    I grew up in a small town many, many moons ago, long before there were any leash laws. My dog and I gallivanted all over town together with never a single problem. The same for everyone’s else’s dogs. I don’t remember there being any strays but I was probably too young & involved in my own adventures to pay attention to grown-up issues. But my point is, oh how I long for the days of yore. When I got my first dog after the leash laws went into effect it had been a number of years since I’d had a dog what with growing up, going to college & starting my new life as an adult. With that new dog I learned how difficult it is training her to walk on leash on being a reliable recall. But most of all I had to teach myself the new rules for owning a dog which included keeping them safe. My childhood dog lived for 18 years without getting killed although she was hit by cars a couple of times (cars were fewer and much slower back then) and poisoned a couple of times. She also was only fed table scraps…my parents never bought commercial dog food. But today’s dog faces these perils 10 fold plus the added danger of being picked up by the wrong people. They can include people who sell dogs to laboratories, people who use dogs for dog fighting, people who use dogs to abuse them, and last but not least, people who are paid to pick up loose dogs for your city, town or county called Animal Control. These dogs are subject to be put down if no owner, new or old, can be found. Sorry this is so long and goes a long way around to get to the point, but dog owners today have a huge responsibility to keep their dogs safe as well as keeping the world safe from their dogs. If you can’t get your dog the exercise and fresh air they need by walking them (on leash) every day, and/or tying them out on a long lead supervised for small increments during the day, then fencing is the responsible option for both your dog and the public at large. Personally I am not in favor of invisible fencing for 3 reasons: unreliable, unfair to the dog and unfair to the public.

    June 10, 2013
    • Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think you do an excellent job of reminding all of us that times have changed (even if we wish they didn’t!). Therefore the choices that we make, as responsible dog owners, must reflect those changes too.

      June 10, 2013
  24. zynischer #

    Even professionally installed fencing can glitch. We had a client that suddenly wouldn’t go out to the back of the (invisibly fenced) yard to her dog run.

    Was a mystery until the owner was out to pull her dog from the run during a rain storm. There was a ‘live’ line and the collar tagged the dog in the middle of the yard. Turns out there was a crossing or close pass with the landscape lighting, and when enough moisture was in the ground, that system became invisible fence, too.

    How freakin’ confusing is that to the dog? Think your dog is going to trust you after something like that? Not for awhile.

    June 10, 2013
  25. I was helping a local rescue with an adoption event. A nice family asked to adopt one of the puppies so the owner of the rescue asked if we would do a home check because she was so busy. The place was huge – the people were nice, but we noticed pictures of a lab all over the place so my friend asked how it died. “She ran though the Invisible Fence and got hit by a car”. We asked if they were planning on refencing for this new lab puppy and they said they would train him on the Invisible Fence. We left the inevitable no to the owner of the rescue & I think they ended up agreeing to partially fence a small part of the large yard & it was written in the contract that if the dog was seen on the property without a leash he would be taken back. I just don’t understand why anyone would want to risk going through such a loss twice.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen the fence work for savvy photography clients who have well trained mellow dogs and aren’t near many busy roads. I think that’s a minority of people.

    I managed to install a 6 foot privacy fence and double gate my entire yard for $4k – however when I was renting with no money I remember making my own fence for $100 with stakes and that wire stuff from Home Depot. Considering how expensive Invisible Fence is you really may as well get the real fence – especially considering how many creeps seem to steal dogs these days.

    It’s perfectly OK just to leash walk your dog too – or buy a long rope for $15 from the hardware store. But if you think beeps and vibrations are going to stop any dog with a prey drive from following a squirrel then you may be setting yourself up for heartbreak.

    June 10, 2013
  26. Paula #

    I live in the country. We recently moved from a remote mountain top with no neighbors and surrounded by woods. My dogs were/are used to being able to run over several acres. They go crazy when they see people not to mention other animals.
    Now we have no fence and 1 of the 7 freaked out so bad on his first leash walk that he almost strangled himself.
    We are slowly building a fence, thank God! Our biggest problem is NOT our dogs but other peoples dogs. We are in a city, a very small rural town but in city limits. The people here seem to think its okay for their dogs to roam freely.
    In the week we have been here there has been pitbulls, shepards and various other large dogs come into our yard. All the roamers have been friendly…my dogs are not.
    Worse still there is no animal control in our county…at all.
    My guys are between 4- 25lbs with only one weighing in at 95lbs and he hates others dogs only tolerating his mini pack.
    We are at a loss as to what to do. Even with fencing fur flies because of their presence near the fence.
    Oh and 3 roamers are from yards with invisable fences! Clearly a waste of money!

    June 11, 2013
  27. Sue #

    I totally understand people think invisible are the answer to containing their dogs but the issues that concern me are: The invisible fence can let people ,animals or children (who can be cruel not meaning it) onto your property .Even in GOOD neighborhoods dog are stolen for possible bait dogs for fighting,
    Fences won’t stop this but don’t make it easy!
    I know it’s not always possible but even though it makes my dogs space smaller I have my fences 10 feet or more from public access, that way if someone is near my dogs they have some explaining to do. I have also posted my property (beware of dogs) the only thing the dogs would do is give someone a good licking. To me my dogs are worth it and I take no chances.As noted there are low cost ways to do it, such as free or cheap on craigslist .

    June 11, 2013
  28. Sandy #

    What I don’t understand is why do they have to put the IF right up to the front of the property? If you chose to go with an invisible fence just do the back yard.

    June 11, 2013
  29. I just don’t trust invisible fences. Part of it is my bias against anything that shocks an animal, but as you’ve said, I’ve known dogs to run through them – after all, a transparent barrier is not going to stop a determined dog from getting the dog/cat/squirrel he has his sights set on – and sometimes the dog is scared to cross the barrier and risk getting shocked again. A nice wooden fence also looks nicer; who wants a bunch of white flags on their property?

    June 11, 2013
    • kendra #

      If you see white flags, its not invisible fence, its pet safe. that’s a DIY fence. invisible fence uses blue flags, and they are only up for training, once the training is complete the flags are slowly taken away

      June 11, 2013
      • Dog-Friendly Training #

        Kendra, the absence of flags is one of the issues with these types of fences.

        June 12, 2013
        • Exactly. The flags let other people know where that hidden boundary line is…more helpful to me as I pass by than a small sign on the mailbox.

          June 12, 2013
          • kendra #

            its the owners choice to leave the flags up or not. signs are posted. again it is the owners responsibility. I would love to know if the gate of a fence is locked as a hear dogs barking behind it when I go for walks but I don’t…its just the way it is. if I ever walked by a house that had an invisible fence sign and the dog went though I would not hesitate to call invisible fence up and let them know. I believe everyone should.

            June 12, 2013
          • Andrea #

            They take the flags down and sometimes the signs too!

            June 12, 2013
            • kendra #

              then blame the owner.,.not the company

              June 12, 2013
        • kendra #

          signs are posted to let the community know that the dog is protected by invisible fence. I said it before and Ill say it again…you cannot blame this on invisible fence, you need to look at the owner of the dog to be a responsible pet owner.

          June 12, 2013
          • Andrea #

            I don’t think many dog owners are very responsible these days. Actually they never really have been throughout history. Sad. :(

            June 12, 2013
          • Margaret #

            It seems consistent that someone who uses any kind of electronic fence for the appearance is going to take down all signage.

            June 18, 2013
            • kendra #

              our clients love their signs and are eager to put them up

              June 19, 2013
          • martie13 #

            Just because you’ve defended IF so many times by blaming the owners who do not use the fence properly tells me that this method of containment is not dependable.

            It would be interesting to see a breakdown showing the percentage of fence failure “due to owner”, fence failure “fence malfunction”, fence failure “by brand due to owner”, fence failure by type (invisible fence, stationary fence types), etc. Regardless of the type of fencing, failures occur and owner responsibility plays a major role.

            I prefer a fence system that I can visually inspect for vulnerabilities rather than rely on a system that has “invisible” properties that only become apparent due to failure or inattention. Then there are the issues of the public’s confusion and fear for their safety when encountering a dog in a yard with no visible fencing, and the possibility of other animals or people entering the yard and doing harm to my dog.

            August 16, 2013
            • yote54 #

              Each person I have met that has talked about this type fence have one thing in common. All say their dogs decided the shock was worth it to get out. For me, I think it’s a waste of money.

              August 16, 2013
      • Andrea #

        Sorry, I’ve seen white invisible fence flags, I know it to be true. They had the invisible fence sign still up. while on that matter, most people take those down as well as the flags.

        June 12, 2013
      • Connie Chapman #

        Invisible Fence brand fencing uses white flags in our area. They come down after training and are replaced by an IF sign at the front of the property. I have been reading all of these posts and am in disbelief. We have had 6 dogs, both large and small breeds over the last 20 years in 2 homes with IF fencing. They do not burn, scorch or taze the dogs. They hear a beep and if they have been trained properly, they turn around and head back quickly – no vibration received. If they have been trained properly and spent more than a couple of hours outdoors with the IF, they learn the boundary and never go close enough to the boundary to even hear the beep. The problem is not the fence. The problem is the same as owners who let their dogs roam freely, don’t train them or socialize them. The problem is the owner – not the dog or the fencing. I am appalled by all of these horror stories, but please people, use some common sense. I have a neighbor who has a small yorkie. I was close by his front porch talking to him and noticed the yorkie on a lease, on the front porch, and it looked different than I remembered. When I asked him about it, he told me this was a new yorkie because his last “beloved” little guy hung himself by accidently stepping off the concrete slab of the porch and dangling by the rope. And here was the next “beloved” yorkie sitting on that high up porch slab with a short lease – long enough to go over the edge of the slab of the porch but not long enough to hit the ground. I pointed out to this guy and he looked at me like I was crazy. Happen twice?? No way. My point here is that there are irresponsible and sometimes ignorant owners and all the issues listed above could be prevented by following training guidelines and never leaving their dogs unsupervised. The problem is not the fencing.

        June 7, 2014
  30. Deni #

    I live on acreage and have field fencing for the dogs. Works great. I have an invisible fence too. It keeps the cat from going out the doggy door!!!

    June 11, 2013
  31. So true! One of my dogs was mauled by a dog “contained” by an invisible fence. The 90 lb dog charged across the shock and went right for my 25 lb dog. I was bitten too, because I had to lay down on top of my dog when I saw pieces of his flesh flying thru the air. Took my dog three months of daily vet visits to have bandages changed while his skin regenerated. Had to sue the owners for my vet bills. Cost their homeowners’ insurance company thousands and thousands of dollars. They now have a “real fence”.

    I can’t tell you how many times my “real fence” has kept other dogs and animals away from my dogs.

    June 11, 2013
  32. I was giving a private training session to a Weimaraner who was slightly reactive. I was able to work with him and we had a successful session. The next week I came back and the dog almost attacked me (of course the owner did nothing but stand there and call the dog which wasn’t working). I was confused at the reaction which was so different than the week before when I was a total stranger. Turns out the dog got his first correction from the IF that day. And this is not the first horror story I’ve heard. I also heard of a dog getting killed during training with the professional trainer because he/she ran through the invisible barrier. I could go on and on with my stories but I’ll stop now.

    June 11, 2013
  33. Jb #

    Not sure why you are recommending the Invisible Fence brand. We currently have Pet Stop. The settings are adjustable – even for multiple dogs in the same home. If the wire has been cut or is not working, the central unit beeps repeatedly to let us know there is an issue. We have ours “pinched down” on the sides of the house so the dogs cannot get to the front yard from the back. We have no desire to have the dogs out front barking or intimidating other dogs, etc. Behavioral issues can crop up just as frequently with traditional fencing. It all comes down to appropriate systems and good training. Don’t kid yourself, dogs escape from a fenced yard just as often. If an underground fence is installed as it should be and the homeowners and pets are trained, it is effective. Our dogs have rarely, if ever, been shocked. We trained them for the visual boundaries as well as the audible, not through punishment. Tired of all the bleeding hearts that turn their dogs loose with no training and then blame it on the system. It’s their own fault! Don’t take your aggressive untrained dog in the front yard to play! Sorry – sick and tired of lazy dog owners that are afraid of their own dogs. Set some limits, be in charge, it’s like being a parent . You as a dog owner are responsible for and accountable for your dog’s behavior.

    June 12, 2013
  34. Joyce Tong #

    I think it’s unfair for everyone to bash IF with story they’ve “heard” that may or may not be true. If the dog is being shocked for 10 min and burned, then the owner must have parked the car right over the wire for 10 min. That has nothing to do with the fence but simple stupidity.

    I have no intension to shock my dogs, but I intentionally switched from a wooden fence to IF to save one of my dog’s life. I adopted a dobe/rott mix from the shelter over 10 yrs ago. To be a “good” dog owner, I paid to install a 4-food fence in the backyard believing that my dog could run around safely. Things started to change when a kid from the neiborhood who liked to cross people’s yards as short cut to school. Every time he came by, he would tease and taunt my dog after I caught and yelled at him several times. My dog had became focused on him from a block away, barking along the fence from one end to the other. Not the don’t come near me warning bark, but I’m going to get you and kill you bark. It got worse everyday that he became condioned to fence fight anyone near the fence including the next door neighbor’s kid playing in their own yard. They were wonderful people that I didn’t want to have any bad things happen to them. With the constant ponding by a 90 lb dog, a few panels on the fence were knocked loose with a gap, which it was not noticeable from the inside. Luckly the neighbor on the other side saw it, and with a true concern of their kids safety notified me and help me fixed close tight. Could you imagine what would happen if that neighborhood kid had walked by before the fix?

    I was able to move to another house for everyone’s sake, and to recondition my dog from fence fight I spent close to 3 times of the money to put in IF for front and back yards. My new neighbors know that I have IF and can mow the lawn with dog barking at a distance. The dog will not go near the edge of the property with many wildlife walking by including deers and coyote. Yes, many people walked by play chicken including kids. Doesn’t matter what type of fence you have, you should always call your dogs back when barking at others. I invited the kids to come in to the yard to pet the dogs, so they don’t need to play chicken. Without a visible fence they also will never want to tease the dogs. There were few escape here there with IF, which same thing had happened with the wooden fence if I don’t close the gate fast enough. My baby was kept safe by IF until he passed away in his rightful age. My current dogs continue to enjoy following me around the yard while I’m doing yard work, roll in the grass, and chasing each other everyday, and the local kids on their tricycle will stop by and ask me “can I come to pet the doggies?” without a wooden fence barrier.

    June 12, 2013
  35. Bruce's Mom #

    My dog(a rather large Doberman) does not go outside alone,for ANY reason. Either my husband is with him or I am. And, believe it or not, this is all for the protection of my DOG. Dobermans don’t get a second chance. If my dog gets it in his head to run across the road and play with the children,(a very likely scenario) what looks like a charging and dangerous dog is likely to get shot. He wears a shock collar and the remote lives around my neck. I keep that big sweetheart under control. A lot of people don’t approve of shock collars (interestingly, often those same people use invisible fences) but I don’t care. He’s a big dog and a member of a breed with a bad rep. I’ll do anything to keep him safe and make sure he does not become a nuisance. No one need fear walking passed my house.

    June 12, 2013
  36. Brava.

    I rarely recommend these. Only for large rural properties with little or no road frontage/foot traffic, or as an adjunct for dogs who challenge conventional fences. (An IF can keep a digger/climber/jumper back from the physical barrier. It’s a little like using a “scare wire” on agricultural fence to keep horses and livestock from pushing it. The scare wire alone would not keep the animals in, but with the physical fence, is humane and effective.)

    But that’s not where and how they are mostly used. And as a trainer, I have to deal with the fallout from inappropriate housing-development IF use all the time — the territorial aggression, neuroses, fears. And the sobs of the owners of dogs who are now road-pizza because squirrel is yummier than shock is scary.

    Scares the crap out of me to see a territorial dog bouncing off his shock barrier and getting madder all the time. What will his state of mind be when he finally runs through? Probably not conducive to me and my dog peacefully continuing on our way.

    June 12, 2013
  37. Ruth Pieger #

    Thank you so much for posting this concise reasoning for not owning an invisible fence! I am going to refer any of my clients or friends to this if they ever consider such a fence. I know of so many cases, especially dogs with thick fur , where the dog has run through the fence. And I also dog walk in a neighborhod with many invisible fences and live in the fear of one of these dogs someday go through the “fence” and getting my little dog. Will be interested in what mor you have to say in the future about these abominations!

    June 12, 2013
    • kendra #

      thank you at least there is one person who truly knows how an invisible fence can save dogs lives. I think what people are forgetting is that no matter what you have as a containment system for you dog nothing is 100% unless the owner is 100% responsible! tell me that if you walked by a house with a fenced in yard and there was a dog on the other side with his head poking out under the fence, or jumping on the fence so hard that it looks like hes going to bust through, maybe even jump over? would you not be equally as nervous?! I think so!
      stop blaming invisible fence and start blaming the owners!! that’s like blaming pit bulls for the bad rap, but in REALITY its the owners that made them that way! RESPONSIBLE OWNERS OF DOGS CONTAIN THEIR PETS IN WHATEVER WAY NESSARIRY! wooden, electric, chain link, or brick wall at least they are fenced in and not dead on the road.
      invisible fence saves lives, I seen it FIRST hand, witch says a lot to those of you who are telling “stories of what they’ve heard”
      our local animal control officer supports invisible fence, as well as every vet in the Annapolis valley and beyond

      June 12, 2013
      • Kendra, I made those points in the blog. I acknowledged there are failures with any type of fence and that owners must be responsible for their dogs. What you seem to be unwilling to acknowledge is that seeing a dog charge at you, with no physical barrier in place, is terrifying. Period. It’s terrifying if the owners aren’t there, but it’s still terrifying when the owners are present too (see my friend who got hurt). Is that so hard to relate to?

        I’ve been walking dogs all day, every day for 10 years now. I am way more nervous when I see dogs “behind” an underground fence (doesn’t matter which brand) than I am when they are behind a physical barrier. I’ll take being surprised by a charging dog behind a 6 ft wood fence or a chain link fence, over a charging dog behind an underground fence any day! At least I know for sure that the fence is there.

        June 12, 2013
        • kendra #

          I do understand that it can be scary. ive been there before I worked for invisible fence. now when I see a dog running towards me if I see an invisible fence sign I relax because I know the dog will stop. I know this because I work for the company and ive seen it work on the most difficult dogs.
          i do sympathise with you. i can only speak for myself when i say that i make sure i post a sign to every fence i train at. sometimes owners take it down, sometimes they want more than one, because they want to make sure that passer byers know that they are safe.
          i also appreciate you acknowledging invisible fence brand as not so bad, but it frustrates me that there are so many people out there that don’t know the difference. and there truly is a big difference.
          we have had many people take out the DIY fence and call us because they don’t work. i can only speak for the company i work for and i know our dogs stay in their yard, it is one thing we pride ourselves on.
          it may be different where you live, and i am truly sorry for your friend and that you have had a bad experience with it. and i wish you could see how we do it here.. we simulate you exactly under a control situation where i bring my dogs with me and walk down the road just like a dog walker would do to make sure the dogs will stay in the yard when there is a person walking or running by. i also incourrage the owner to recreate situations where they think there dog might go through the fence in a controlled way. and if they do then we are called back to adjust. we also do not install fences to aggressive dogs.
          we cannot control everything but we try our best because we want the best for our dogs and the dogs in the communities we install at. it is unfortunate that some people abuse this type fencing, i am only one person trying to change how people think of invisible fence and right some of the myths that are going around.

          June 12, 2013
  38. Andrea #

    Thank you for this article! Exactly my thought while out walking my clients dogs! We moved from a fenced house to a non-fenced house recently. The new house has invisible fence already set up, but I am NOT using it. There is no way I’d subject my dog to that. He’s very prey motivated and without a doubt in my mind would run right through it. We’re getting a real fence as soon as some other work is done to the house. Until then I either bring him out on the leash or put him out on a tie-out, but never by himself. You wouldn’t let a two year old child out by itself, why would you let a dog out by itself? Even when we had a fence I watched him while he was back there, as he’s a digger-outer.

    June 12, 2013
  39. iwantmyonelist #

    Best Quote of the Day, and from one of my dog training idols!

    To use shock as an effective dog training method you will need:
    A thorough understanding of canine behavior.
    A thorough understanding of learning theory.
    Impeccable timing.
    And if you have those three things, you don’t need a shock collar. –Dr. Ian Dunbar

    June 12, 2013
  40. Zbomb #

    oh I know that feeling, there’s a house in town with a TINY front garden and there used to be a tiny metal post in the ground with a cable attached, which was used to contain a big, mean rottweiler. now it’s not so bad when you know all of this, but when you’re just strolling by and suddenly a huge dog is snarling and charging you, it’s pretty scary. even knowing about the post, it was so tiny and the dog so huge that you had to stop and look for it to know if the dog was restrained. I remember the day I learned about that house, I was walking with a friend when we heard this barking beside us and damn near died of fright when we saw what was coming. I was on the inside and moved to face the dog and put space between him and my friend, had the whole slow-mo fight or flight moment in which I wondered how exactly I was going to fight an angry rottweiler, when I noticed a cable on the collar and followed it to the teensy post. I relaxed, and suddenly became aware of the tight grip on my arm as my friend had hidden behind me and decided to use me as a human shield. probably a good thing I didn’t have to do anything as I only had one arm free! I gave him so much crap for that heh, but I was much angrier at the insanity of putting an aggressive dog on a lawn about twice its size with no fence, on a blind turn no less. thankfully it’s no longer an issue but yes it is very scary to have a dog go for you like that, rotties are one of my faves but I don’t wanna see that look again any time soon.

    June 12, 2013
  41. Reblogged this on Zerobites Dog Training.

    June 13, 2013
  42. Jessica #

    I loathe invisible fences in people’s front yards. I get why people might use them on large properties with no foot traffic and believe they can be humanely used in that kind of situation. I have a four foot fence that contains most of my dogs nicely in my back yard. I say most because our most recent addition is a young, rescued German Shorthaired Pointer that is an escape artist. He climbed/jumped our fence with no problem the second we weren’t looking and did it quite a few times before we figured out how he was getting out. He even jumped the fence when we were right there with him! I’m well versed in positive training techniques and I couldn’t come up with anything reinforcing enough to keep him in the yard. And I do need him to be able to be in the yard with the other dogs occasionally and not run away. So, I actually ended up adding one wire of electric livestock fence along the top of our wooden fence. The GSP touched it once and hasn’t even thought about climbing or jumping over the fence again. I touched it, too, and it was definitely shocking, not painful, but very surprising. I didn’t want to do it, but I really think it was the best option. We live in a development and a dog could easily get hit by a car if it got loose. In this case, the electric fence was the best option left.

    June 13, 2013
  43. Peace of Mind Petsitting #

    Yeah I can 2nd the dog chicken game. And if the dog takes the shock and comes through the fence the dof owner needs to know that as a professional dog walker, we must protect ourselves and our charges. I have personally kicked an offending dog away from me and my client’s small dog. I then dropped my business card on the pavement and told the hysterically screaming owner of the charging dog that I would be more than happy to wait for the police she called and show them my contract. The police ended up citing her for failure to contain her dog on her property. Very well written article. Worth passing a long to other dog owners.

    June 13, 2013
  44. How about owners that do have dogs but are just left to run around the streets and really bark and follow these people passing by. So sometimes it’s good to be required to have one pet containment system for people to be safe around walking.

    July 14, 2013
  45. Mel #

    As a former professional dog walker, all I can say is “Amen!”. I hate them and I hate that people think they are invincible as well as invisible. They aren’t. We once had a lost Beagle here that was stuck for 3 days underneath a bush because he broke through his invisible fence and the color malfunctioned and kept buzzing so the dog laid there frozen, afraid to move, because he thought he was going to be shocked. Thank goodness a neighbor found him. So hate these non-fences.

    The owner hiding behind a bush? Yeah. That IS a whole other story. Wow.

    August 16, 2013
  46. jahvarga@Hotmail.com #

    I agree that dogs should not be left unattended with an invisable fence. I have a DogTeck fence and I love it. I trust my dog not to leave the yard, but I still keep an eye on him. Plus, if I see someone coming down the street with their dog, I put mine in a sit stay and tell him “no bark”. He is only 18 months and he listens. It just takes training, which some are not willing to do. If you are not willing to be responsible about it, NO you should not have an invisable fence. I have an acre and I couldn’t afford a solid fence at this time. The invisable fence was under $400 and works great, for me. There is a lady, so I call her, downt he street that has an invisable fence sign but no fence and her dogs run out at me all the time. I get the frustration.

    October 15, 2013
  47. I feel your pain. I have been dog walking for close to 20 yrs and the Invis. fences are popping up everywhere. If you live in the country and want to give your dogs the freedom to enjoy your multiple acres…MAYBE Invisible fencing is the right choice for you. I know some folks that install invisible fence as a back up to conventional fence for climbers or diggers…okay…MAYBE…
    But a city lot in neighborhoods with people dogs and cars passing by your yard is not the place for this system – EVER.

    June 8, 2014
  48. DragonLair Kennel #

    I hate those fences. I have a mixed pack of several breeds of dogs. Most of them would not do well in that type of fencing even if I thought that fencing was great. Anyway…..I have been walking my dogs at night only to have several dogs run right through the invisible fence and right at my dogs. My Malamutes and Pyrenees do ok with that. They put an end to the threat by knocking the attacking dog for a loop. Not the best scenario at all, but better than my dogs getting chewed alive. My Setter and Greyhound mix are another story and have been terrorized by dogs racing along the fence or charging thru the fence. I carry pepper spray for those times. I do not hesitate to blast an attacking dog with it any more than I would hesitate to blast an attacking dog owner! My neighbors used to have their yard fenced in with the invisible fencing and their dog was loose and in my yard at least once a day. My back yard is now totally visibly fenced in for my dogs. The front will be soon. Because i do have breeds of dogs that will dig, climb or leap over fences, I run a single strand of electric fence along the top of the fence, a jump off from the horse and goat fence. Along the outside bottom I have chicken wire flat on the ground with grass and other plants growing on top and through the wire which makes it almost impossible for mine to dig out, or loose dogs to dig in. Even when they are behind the fence, my dogs are not outside when I am not at home or awake. Even my Livestock Guardian dogs are only outside when I am at home. If a person insists on using the invisible fence, they need to stay outside while the dog is outside or maintain some sort of constant supervision on the dogs while outside.

    June 8, 2014
  49. Housing associations are horrible horrible things.

    June 9, 2014
  50. Joan #

    Great story
    I am a dog walker and a Dog Control,Officer
    Most of the. DCO issues are as a result of stories like the one where your friend got hurt. Most of our “lost” dogs are one which have ambled through or bolted through the fence. Supervision is key if you have to have a fence like this. I knew someone who thought her. Norwich terrier was safe playing in the IF yard. The coyotes came in and that was that! Please invest the time to go in the yard with your pet!!

    June 10, 2014
    • Thanks for sharing your professional experiences with these fences Joan. And a big AMEN to proper supervision!

      June 10, 2014
  51. Kelsy #

    I have three dogs and the DIY petsafe brand invisible fence. I also live in the country but next to a road people love to fly around. Fencing in the almost two acres my rental house sits on isn’t an option and I didn’t want to tether my dogs out. My girls who are both under a year were easy to train to the fence and I do have to keep an eye on one’s batteries as she likes to run the beeping perimeter (note she is not being shocked while it beeps) I don’t have foot traffic ever near my house and its pretty easy to see where my dogs can’t/won’t go. My yard is split with my driveway and they don’t get within 5ft of it. They haven’t run out even when chasing birds, squirrels ect. Now my Malamute didn’t like it, it scared him and he couldn’t figure out where it was even with the flags so for now he has to be in a lot when outside I’m saving money to fence in the wooded area with a physical fence and the electric fence as a double measure to ensure he doesn’t dig out (which he tries in the lot. He’s not a fan of fences at all after he was quarantined for five months as a puppy). In my area you don’t have to keep your dogs contained at all. My neighbors across the street have a 12 year old golden and while she stays pretty well in her yard she has come into the road barking at who knows what. My pups have gone to their boundary, barked and at that point I always call them back in. I also bring them in during storms remove their collars and unplug the fence box. My dogs also still have tag bearing collars. A pet peeve of mine is owners that put their dogs on these fences with no ID.

    I also volunteer for my local animal control and yes, I’ve seen dogs come in with their fence collars on because they were just turned loose or the batteries died or lightning destroyed the box. I’ve also seen dogs that have snapped chains, climbed fences and dug beneath them. While I agree having the physical fence for you to see is less stressful it doesn’t mean the dog is really contained. Some dogs can get out of anything.

    My main point to all this is every dog is an individual what worked for one might not work for another. Its about knowing your dog and yes making your neighbors aware your dog is contained on an invisible fence. Personally I would rather do what’s in my power to keep my dogs safe than to say oh well we’ll see what happens. Proper training to these can make a huge difference and watching your pet as well.

    I should also mention, my pups are exercised daily, fed a proper diet, provided with water and shelter always and most often always indoors with me.

    June 15, 2014

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Should I get an Invisible Fence? | Paws Abilities
  2. Dog Walkers and Doggy Day Care- While your away your Dog will Play!
  3. Peace in the Yard: 7 Ways To Dog Proof Your Fence | notes from a dog walker
  4. Peace in the Yard: 7 Ways To Dog Proof Your Fence « Dogs in Need of Space

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